Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Simple and good

So little cooking! I can't help it. I am one person at home and I cook a lot at work, so my offerings at home are pretty sparse these days. This chili was fabulous... lentils and tvp were the protein source along with a bit of quinoa. I pureed almost an entire head of cilantro with some tomatoes to finish it off... topped with lime, tofu sour cream and more cilantro it was so satisfying. My kids love it too, which is why I make something like this weekly. My eldest son said that he never really craves chili, but when he eats it is is favorite food. hehe... I love that kid.
To compliment the chili, I made some herbed corny soda bread... I used white whole wheat flour and it was great. It was a nice change from straight cornbread or muffins...
Forgive the blur... the lighting really sucked that day.. These are fat free/low sugar chocolate cupcakes ready to go in the oven... They were much better than I expected..
I made them to test the frosting. It is a raw cashew based chocolate frosting... I used mostly stevia to sweeten, along with agave nectar.. and flax meal.. this was not golden, which would be better I think. YOu can see the grainy texture a bit.. I have to work on that. Golden meal will be better, I'm sure.

Here is half of a great sandwich. From work. Crispy marinated tofu, chipotle mayo (vegan of course) and veggies on great pumpernickel bread... YUMO!

Friday, April 25, 2008

Comfort foods... and freezer eating

This week has been rather stressful, so I've been relying on comforting soups to feed the body and soul. Soup is my number one comfort food, even when it's hot.. and it's been hot!

The above was a delicious two pea soup. Frozen peas compliment dried and collard greens made the dish shine. Balsamic vinegar and tomatoes finished it off. I stirred in a bit of pesto just before serving. The pesto had lemon zest, which really made an explosion of flavors.
I used Lightlife Smart Bacon along with onions to create a great base flavor for the soup. I only used cooking spray for the fat and then some broth, but I imagine if you cooked these in oil, they would become really, really delicious. I was still pleased with the depth of flavor they added to the soup without the fat! 2 strips contain 45 calories, 2 g fat and 6 g protein. Very, very smart if you ask me!
I am still loving green smoothies. Last nights was spinach, ice, frozen pineapple, flax meal, frozen banana, water, lemon juice, stevia and coconut extract. Total pina colada action, but so good for you!

Here is some Sag Paneer from the freezer. I made this a while back and it froze really well! Cook once, eat twice. It is really fabulous to come home from a stressful day and throw something in a pot and cook it up without any effort. (I don't have a microwave)
Another freezer treat! Eggplant quinoa tomato soup with soybeans... I think it was ever better after a month or so in the deep freeze! Fresh baby spinach made this a one dish meal.. I've said it before and I'll say it again.. Quinoa is amazing in all soups! I just love it.
Good Morning! I am sooo spoiled!! I love living at the beach.

I will be moving June 1st back to the town my kids live in. I found a nice apartment there and even though I can't have my dog, I can have my kids... and that is more important. (I can't have my dog here either)... I will be close enough to see my dog as much as I want. I get all the fun of dog mommyhood! hehe.. It will be SOOO nice to have my kids with me again on a daily basis. These last 5 months have been such a change.... in great ways, but also VERY hard on me to be away from them on a daily basis. I will probably only have one at a time, but that's perfect.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Easy food and Blue Moon Cafe, Exeter, NH

I have been totally boring this week when it comes to food at home. Above is whole wheat angel hair with a low fat, vegan pesto and sugar snap peas that were cooked over high heat in my cast iron...
The last week or so, I've been pretty much pulling a Seinfeld and eating cereal, blueberries and soymilk for dinner.
Spring has finally sprung in New Hampshire!

I've been very enthralled by birds lately......

Also, work has been going great. I've been cooking up a vegan storm at the Blue Moon Cafe in Exeter, NH. Jerk Tempeh and Seitan 'Sausage', Kale, Onions, Roasted Garlic and Sundried tomatoes are on the menu for tomorrow, along with vegan Eggplant 'Parmesan'.. and Thai Spicy Noodles and Tofu.... It has been so much fun cooking vegan food! I hope that I can find the time this week to start the Blue Moon Blog..... complete with daily specials and soups....

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Souper. Sammy. Reviews.

Lite tofu is such a good calorie bang for your buck. The brand I buy has only 50 calories per serving and it is a firm tofu. I love it, especially after freezing. Several days back, I made a fabulous clean out the fridge BBQish sauce. It contained the sugar free mandarin oranges I spoke about recently and chipotle peppers. It was sweetened with a tiny bit of stevia and the result was so tangy and spicy with just the perfect amout of sweet to saturate the tofu during baking. I kept the tofu in the fridge for later in the day when the kids and I would enjoy lunch.
This post is jumping all over; this was my dinner last night. A delicious cauliflower cheese soup with quinoa. Below is a pic of broccoli, quinoa and cheese soup I made using the same method, which is super simple. Frozen veggies, fresh garlic, veggie stock, umeboshi vinegar and spices along with cashew cheese and 1/4 c quinoa for the 16 oz bag of veggies. it made me two large servings (I froze the other half for a quick meal). I was surprised by how much it hit the spot after a longs days work. Best of all, it took less than 30 minutes to prepare! Quinoa compliments every soup I've ever tried it in so far! (and there are quite a few!)
Jumping around again... this was a BST (spinach instead of lettuce) made with Smart Bacon. My son loved it and I liked the bite I had. I haven't had Lightlife Smart Bacon for a while and realized while it's OK, their tempeh bacon strips are SOOO much better!
Told ya'll it was a jumpy post! Back to soup now. This was the cheesy broccoli soup I made with the same method as above. It was sprinkled with smoked paprika. The color is horrific, the flavor out of this world!
Here is some baked tofu used in such a satisfying sandwich. Veggies, the tofu and a slice of Galaxy Foods Rice Pepper Jack Slices (I've been trying to link to the website, but it seems to be down. I'll try again tomorrow).. The slices are amazing on a sandwich and in grilled cheese. On their own, they seem a little odd, but I'm definitely sold. Vegan, low calorie, no hydrogenated oil and no soy or gluten... and mighty tasty. I'm thinking they will be delicious on top of an enchilada bake or in a quesadilla too.

This was the Lightlife Wild Rice Tempeh. I baked it with the tofu in the same sauce. I liked it. I think I prefer the flax though.
Hmmmm... how can I talk about this sandwich. Remember the raw cashew kale salad in my last post? .. and the Galaxy Vegan Cheddar? Well, imagine that on top of sprouted ezekial raisin bread pressed and grilled and you have this one. It was very good and my 16 year old even liked it!
Just imagine this without the wires and construction... I do when I wake up in the morning.

I'll be sad to leave my beach rental in June. (but also happy)...

Work is going well. In the last week or so I've made some great vegan food and people have been eating it... today I created a veggie and tempeh ratatouille and worked on a recipe for a raw spread... yesterday it was vegan lasagna. Fun stuff. I was pleasantly surprised that the vegan lasagna sold so well considering it is not a vegan place (or even a vegetarian place.. they serve chicken and tuna)..

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Quick update

I have barely been cooking at home lately... but this delicious chili hit the spot. Even though it looks like pinto bean chili, it was actually a spicy chipotle black bean stew. I pressure cooked the beans along with sweet potatoes, onions, garlic and other spices. Now here is where this chili takes a turn. I used some Galaxy foods chipotle hummus to create the creamy smokiness that made this chili shine. I also shredded some of the Galaxy Foods Block Cheddar and the soup was absolutely delicious. I sent some to my kids and X and they loved it as well.
Just a side note and something I would want to be noted as a company... when trying to remove the foil from the hummus, I cut both of my thumbs quite bad on either the plastic or the foil (not sure what it was).. they were very deep paper cuts and they really hurt, so maybe that should be something to review as a company...

The restaurant I work at has a great raw superfood salad. The base is kale and it is very popular in our deli case. I was playing around with recipes and came up with this awesome raw ceasar dressing (very loosely based on Dreena's recipe) and tossed it with kale, shredded carrot and red cabbage. It is super delicious... I took the dressing into work and one of my co-workers made a suggestion that really took the dressing over the top. I am going to talk with my boss about her feelings on me posting recipes I develop for the restaurant...
.. and speaking of awesome raw recipes, I made a wonderful almond pate today with fresh basil, thyme, scallions and other ingredients... I'm not sure what we'll be doing with it, but a raw sandwich or nori filled option is a possibility... I love creating delicious food!

I brought home some tofu salad the other day from work and enjoyed it in a kale wrap... I love our tofu salad.... the flavors are subtly different from most tofu salads out there.. It has been such a great experience coming into a restaurant with such a strong base of very good food... I'm enjoying my c0-workers a lot as well... they are very talented.

I may have found an apartment that will allow me to have a dog! My heart of hearts really wants to be a foster parent to pit bulls... I have my beautiful dog Jorda, who we rescued and there are so many more pit bulls that are killed just because of their breed. I want to help, one dog at a time.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Salads and simple food

Salads, salad, salad! (said in my best Jan Brady voice).... On Mon and Tue I get home from work around 8pm and the last thing I want is to eat or prepare a large meal, so I've been eating salad. Boring as it may be to some, it is enjoyable for this party of one. The salad above and below are very similar, baby arugula, low fat flax vinaigrette, baked tofu and avocado... but the one above contained these awesome canned mandarin oranges. The reason they are so awesome is that they were canned without any sugar or corn syrup! When I opened the can, I added a tiny bit of stevia to them and they were fabulous.

I used some of the Lightlife Flax Tempeh to create this awesome dish.
In my cast iron with cooking spray I sauted scallions, garlic and ginger along with soy sauce, daikon and steamed tempeh... a T or so of hoisin sauce and chili garlic sauce punched up the flavor big time. I served it wrapped in a steamed red cabbage leaf topped with avocado and a drizzle of toasted sesame oil. It hit the spot!

Now, onto two more Lightlife reviews:

The first from my 14 year old vegetarian son who enjoyed the Smart Stuffers Chick'n Broccoli Melts. He really liked them and said he'd be very happy to eat them once a week or so. He had two which contained a whopping 40 grams of protein, along with a salad and was very full. They are not vegan though... I wish they were! It's important to read labels and not assume a vegetarian product won't have eggs or dairy.

Second, my mother tried the Smart Chili and she liked it a lot. She said it had a wonderful flavor, but she added a bunch of veggies to it because she's into veggies. Growing up, every meal had to contain a green vegetable. (steamed or raw) I thank her for that.

Oh, I forgot, a third review from my X about the Chorizo sausages. (I have two saved in my freezer to try so I can give my opinion)... He loved them! He said they were delicious and hit the spot after a work out when he often craves meat.

This life of mine seems very odd right now. I am looking for a permanent apartment in the same town as my kids (I currently live 20 mins away from them)... so many changes in the last year. I can't wait until I am living there and they can be with me whenever they want. It has been a hard adjustment not to be with them everyday. Two teen boys... they will be men before I know it.

I really NEED there to be good lighting in this new apartment... because my photography depends on it.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Galaxy Foods Vegan Cheese and Hummus

I was excited to receive these goods... vegan cheese and hummus! Galaxy Foods has created an amazing Vegan line of products much superior to their vegetarian offerings in my humble opinion. I have compared them to their Veggie Slices/Shreds and find their Vegan offerings SO much better! I am actually excited about this vegan cheese! I have opened the block cheddar... and have had it cold on a sandwich and I really love the flavor.

Now, I have to be honest. Cheese is my biggest weakness, but these products totally hit the mark for me. I don't know how it melts yet, but will be sure to report my findings. The flavor is delicious and I'm thrilled that none of their products contain hydrogenated oils. They do contain corn syrup solids which is my only objection. Still, MUCH better than tofutti slices in taste an nutritional valiue.

Here is the rice slice on a grilled cheese. You can see how wonderfully it melts. It was totally satisfying and I will definitely buy this to have around.
The rice cheddar... very delicious on a cold sandwich as well... at only 45 calories per slice, it is a great alternative to dairy cheese and other vegan slices.

I will be utilizing the rest of the goods soon... so look forward to those posts! For now, I can say that I am much more impressed with the Galaxy Foods Vegan Cheeses than I thought I would be! Also, the chipotle hummus I've tried was fantastic... and I'm looking forward to tasting the rest of the hummus they sent.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Lightlife Porn and a lasagna story

I was thrilled to get this huge package full of great Lightlife products to sample... The tempeh variety is the most thrilling to me! I already eat the ham... and love it. I will try everything, but I can guarantee you that some of the products I won't like because they will be too "meatlike" to me.. which is GREAT for many other vegans out there.. or vegetarians or even meat eaters who want to incorporate meatless meals into their lifestyles. My kids and EX will be happy testers for many of the products as well... my kids are vegetarians and my EX eats meat... and all give their very honest opinions on anything I cook... so the reviews will be coming...
Of these products, I can already say I love the bacon and tempeh smoky strips. In fact, I ADORE the tempeh smoky strips.. as do many customers of the restaurant I work in. The Gimme Lean is SOOO meatlike it freaks me out, but my family LOVES it. I look forward to trying the chorizo style 'sausages..
Wait.. there's more! Cutlets.. they sure look chickenlike from the packaging... I'll photograph the actual product and give my honest review... and the italian style sausages.. I am very much looking forward to tasting these!... along with the stuffers.. and I think I'll try to make a meatloaf out of the ground round to see how that works...
This had to be the STRANGEST lasagna I've ever made.... it was a clean out the fridge meal on CRACK! Chickpeas that needed to be used up.. hummus, yes.. but not regular hummus.. roasted red pepper hummus with sesame seeds instead of tahini... veggies, tofu ricotta, lots of cauliflower that was turned into a soup with the hummus that topped the lasagna... and so on..

It was good and that's all that matters. I couldn't make it again if I tried... but it served my mother and I well for several meals..
100 calorie snack of the said hummus and low calorie pita..

I weighed in this morning... and on my scale, I have lost 5 lbs in the last month... so I am on track. Woohoo! The next weigh in will May 1st.. once a month is much better for my mindset. For those who don't know, my goal is to lose 1 lb a week.